Zaleski: Go west for Eric Sevareid symposium
Most young North Dakotans do not know who Eric Sevareid was. This week they will have an extraordinary opportunity to learn about one of the giants of broadcast journalism who helped create the craft. A public humanities symposium on the life and...
Most young North Dakotans do not know who Eric Sevareid was. This week they will have an extraordinary opportunity to learn about one of the giants of broadcast journalism who helped create the craft. A public humanities symposium on the life and legacy of Sevareid opens Thursday in Bismarck and continues through Oct. 3.
The Twitter and Facebook set might have heard the name because Sevareid is often listed with famous North Dakotans like band leader Lawrence Welk and basketball coach Phil Jackson. But Velva, N.D., native Sevareid's influence on radio and television news was not about entertainment and personality. It was about professionalism and credibility.
The Bismarck symposium will feature veteran broadcasters who worked with Sevareid, among them Dan Rather and Bob Scheiffer. Other elements of the program will consider Sevareid's legacy; his work in World War II with Edward R. Murrow; his beliefs about civil discourse; clips of an upcoming documentary film on his life. Sevareid died in 1992.
The symposium is sponsored by the North Dakota Humanities Council and the Dakota Institute. It's the realized vision of humanities scholar Clay Jenkinson, who returned to his native North Dakota five years ago. He's changed for the better the way North Dakotans view their heritage, history and the men and women who were formed by the state's culture, climate and economy.
Jenkinson's work with the institute (David Borlaug of Washburn, N.D., has been a major force in the institute's success), has included several symposia and documentary films. That growing body of North Dakota-focused work has given every North Dakotan the opportunity to gain fresh insights into who we were and who we are.
The Sevareid symposium embraces that same search for identity, that same spirit of discovery. In addition to his years of delivering news and commentary for CBS, Sevareid wrote eloquently about his youth on the western prairie - how he couldn't escape Velva fast enough, but also how he saw the town as a kind of rural utopia, and how North Dakota defined who he eventually became.
It looks to be an outstanding four days of everything Sevareid. Jenkinson and his team have brought together scholars, authors and veteran broadcasters, all to concentrate on the life and legacy of the legendary newsman.
'Not So Wild a Dream'
The autumn edition of the magazine of the Humanities Council is "the Sevareid issue." It's a perfect primer for North Dakotans who want to learn more about Eric Sevareid - a good lesson before attending the symposium.
The edition features a long excerpt from Sevareid's 1946 memoir, "Not So Wild a Dream," in which he describes life in the North Dakota of his youth. His writing is as fresh and compelling today as it was 64 years ago. It should be required reading for every young North Dakotan.
Contact Editorial Page Editor Jack Zaleski at 701) 241-5521.